Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cenotaph Gravemarkers

I regularly workout at a woman's gym. The employee in attendance this afternoon was one that I had not seen in a while. She had taken her mother to Kansas City for a visit to the area in which her mother was raised. They visited a cemetery that contained the remains of her mother's relatives that included an infant sister. The family moved west during the Great Depression leaving this infant behind in her grave.

Nancy felt badly about this infant who was left behind. Other members of that family were buried in the same cemetery. I told her about Martin Ringo who died in Wyoming en route to California from Missouri. He accidentally shot himself and was buried along the trail that today is called the Oregon Trail. At some time a person or persons erected a marker at the site of Martin Ringo's burial. Martin was one of the lucky ones who died along the Oregon Trail whose grave-site was identified and marked. Many others died and were buried but nothing remains of their burial location.

Nancy  felt badly that this infant in her grave was left behind while the family moved to the west. Looking back at my family and my husband's family, I realize that many of our ancestors left their dead buried in cemeteries that they would never visit again. I am entirely confident that everyone has a family member or ancestor buried somewhere that they are not likely to visit.

My father wished to be cremated. He did not care what we did with his cremains. He suggested that we might have his ashes spread at sea as he was a lifelong Navy person, interred with those of our mother at the National Cemetery, or interred at his parents' grave site.

We got together and all agreed as to have his cremains divided into three portions. That would allow us to have one portion of his ashes spread at sea, another portion interred with our mother at the National Cemetery and the third portion interred at his parents' burial site. But the one sister to whom the cremains were released changed her mind and had different ideas. We argued but she would not release to us his cremains. Eventually as part of a litigation, we had to buy his cremains from her.

Our father did not care where his cremains were interred or scattered. I did not care either but wanted a place that marked his existence. Another sister, trustee of our father's trust, agreed so we placed a cenotaph marker at our father's parents' grave site.

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